“Their Hearts Had Been Changed”

Brant Gardner

The essence of the conversion process is embodied in the final phrases. These Lamanites had had their hearts changed, and they had no more desire to do evil. This saving change of heart is reminiscent of Alma the Younger’s discourse to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 as he begins his tour of religious retrenchment throughout the land of Zarahemla:

Alma 5:6-7

6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?

7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God…

It is not coincidental that we have a similar imagery in the case of the Lamanite king and servants as we have in Alma the Younger’s discourse. Note that Alma specifically uses the imagery of being awakened out of a deep sleep, and awakened unto God. This is precisely the condition we find in the case of King Lamoni. He (and those with him) had been as if in a deep sleep, and had awakened unto God. This was, of course, the very experience that Alma the Younger had which had transformed him. These descriptions of the events of King Lamoni and Alma the Younger are couched in similar terms.

The important point for both, however, is the change of heart. The scriptures use the heart as the location of our spiritual feelings, and the imagery of hardening one’s heart is used to show the exclusion of spiritual feelings from one’s life. This contrast between the “hard” and the “soft” heart is the conversion that is meant here.

The heart is changed in its ability to deal with the spiritual, and is figuratively changed from hard to “soft.” There is a change in receptiveness, there is a change in attitude. For those who experience this tremendous transformation, there is even a change in the physical countenance. One can actually see the changes in the person. Light replaces dark in ways that can even be perceived with our natural eyes.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon